Review Summary: Alan Palomo does a fantastic job of melding all his influences without sounding formulaic, and he manages to make eighties revival music in general sound fresh again, which is getting harder and harder to do as time goes on. In short: listen to this twack
The first thing you hear when listening to Neon Indian’s full length debut, Psychic Chasms, is a blend of lo-fi drums, distorted synths, and what sound like an eighties commercial recorded on a mangled cassette. This, the opening track (AM), appears to be a snippet from a longer song, and ends as abruptly as it began, before leading into Deadbeat Summer, which, while more structured, essentially offers the same sound, though with Alan Palomo’s soft vocals. My initial impression of Neon Indian was that it was nothing more than a poor quality recording of Cut Copy mimicry with some extra samples thrown on, then washed out, and then turned in as a completed album.
So why couldn’t I stop listening to it?
The fact is, Psychic Chasms is just so fascinating. Among the first of the so-called chillwave genre to release a proper full length (along with Memory Tapes), a large part of the joy of this album is just that it’s so unrelentingly WEIRD. Over the span of just under half an hour, Neon Indian’s debut approaches electronic pop with a highly experimental, extremely warped sound with scarce limits, and the result is an inexplicably warm, pleasant sound that is strangely reminiscent of summer.
Psychic Chasms is best when ingested as a whole, but the individual tracks are outstanding on their own as well, seeing as there are so many standouts. Laughing Gas should come across as unnerving and creepy, with keyboards that sound like they were run through a washing machine over a sample of giggly children, but the melody is so bright and alluring you can’t help but warm up to it; the song actually feels like the aural equivalent to the moment laughing gas takes over the nervous system. (If I Knew, I’d Tell You) has far more ideas rolled up into its forty six seconds than one would expect, and the pair of 6669 (I Don’t Know If You Know) and Should Have Taken Acid with You carry the best traits of Cut Copy without sounding distractingly like them. On both, particularly the latter, Palomo’s gentle voice serves as a perfect compliment to the faded yet bold and busy melody, and the former’s bears a charming resemblance to a left field, reggae inflected remix of a Police song.
Also there is the astonishingly soulful Mind, Drips, which is such thanks in large part to its half video game bleep, half Boards of Canada sounding intro and the random sample that takes over the chorus. Ephemeral Artery boasts an aggressive. offbeat sound collage resembling a more retro flavored Justice, right before 6669’s counterpart 7000 (Reprise) closes things out with a ska ridden guitar and light synth harking back to the original song.
As weird as Psychic Chasms can get, there is always genuine personality backing the songs, and everything flows wonderfully. Alan Palomo does a fantastic job of melding all his influences without sounding formulaic, and he manages to make eighties revival music in general sound fresh again, which is getting harder and harder to do as time goes on. In short: listen to this twacked out ***; chances are you will love it.